6 year old...depression? hyper-sensitive? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 07-11-2005, 10:19 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm hoping someone might have an idea or two for me.
My daughter is 6 year old. She has ALWAYS been really sensitive and compassionate beyond her years. Most of the time, this is a good thing. But for the last 2 years or so, every once in a while (ie, every three months or so), she will come to me and complain about just feeling sad. She doesn't ever have an explanation for it, but she'll be in tears and pretty inconsolable. When this happens, I've tried several things--from offering her a good cry while I snuggle her, to recently explaining relaxation techniques to her (deep breathing, essentially) and that usually quickly calms her down. In fact, she snaps out of it quite quickly--she'll go from crying to a normal voice saying "hey mommy, did you know..." or something.

Since we know her temperment is like this, we've been pretty careful about what we let her see/hear/read. Unfortunately, things still slip through. Last night, she cried for over an hour because she saw on the front page of the paper a story about a man named Alex (the same name as my fiance, whom she adores) drowning in a local pond. An hour after I put her to bed, she came to me sobbing and saying "bad thoughts kept buzzing around" her head and wouldn't let her sleep. I got her her to settle down, but her language worries me a bit. She's said before that the "sad and bad Samantha's" in her head won't be quiet, so she can't sleep. She's also recently been complaining of her stomach feeling funny--not sick, but "wavey".
Now, she has gone through a lot of pretty stressful events the past few years. Her dad & I broke up 4 years ago, I became engaged, and I also have a newborn son. Her father and I are still very good friends--it is a very amicable split, even my fiance and him are friends. He has thanksgiving dinner with us, even. So her dad and I have always been very open and have talked with her about things, and have ALWAYS encouraged her to talk about the situation, especially if we think something is bothering her. She does not seem phased about her new brother--she loves him dearly and loves to help out with him. But I still wonder if some of the more recent escalation of her stress levels are because of all this.

I don't know...I've been considering taking her to a counselor, just for someone to talk to besides her dad or I. She is very senstive to hurting our feelings, so I worry that if she won't say certain things to us because of this. When she started kindergarten last year, her dad & I sat down with the guidance counselor and told her about our situation and all the changes that Sam would be going through, so that she could alert us if anyone at the school noticed anything, but they always said Sam seemed to be very very well adjusted.

I don't know what else to say, and the baby is screeching, so I guess I'm just wondering if anyone has any advice? Again, she's ALWAYS been very sensitive and almost overly compassionate, but I just don't know when a red flag should be raised, you know?

Thanks for reading if you got this far.
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#2 of 6 Old 07-11-2005, 11:28 AM
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Moving this to special needs parenting. I think it might be something more like SID, which would require a different approach than a psychologist, but the moms in that forum know much more about it than I do!

For me, a kid with SID in a major way, public school was sheer torture. Is there any possible way you could homeschool her? I know many children in real life who really blossomed after being pulled out of school to be in a more supportive, calm, pleasant environment, and where lessons were individualized to the child's learning style.
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#3 of 6 Old 07-11-2005, 11:37 AM - Thread Starter
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She absolutely adores school--she thrived in kindergarten, and loved her teacher and classmates, talks about them all the time, and can't wait for first grade. Pulling her out of school would, without a doubt, be completely detrimental to her.
She showed some signs of SID when she was a baby/toddler, and still does, but ONLY to noise and some touch (sock seams, to be exact). Her pediatrician happened to be a behavioural specialist (we found that out after we had selected him), and he also did not think she had true SID--only a couple markers of it.
That being said (sorry, naking, this is disjointed)...if she does have SID, where do I go from there?
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#4 of 6 Old 07-11-2005, 06:09 PM
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We found the book Raising Your Spirited Child to be very helpful with our sensitive 6 y/o. Ours is also very intense and many other things, but I do think that it would have some helpful advice for a child who is 'just' sensitive and perceptive.

I am hoping that, for my daughter, having a firm bond with me & the knowledge that I am there to back her up & listen to her will help her traverse the rough waters that may lie ahead. We did take our dd out of first grade for a few months last year to homeschool b/c it was a very bad experience for her, but it sounds like you have a good thing going so far with school. That is good to hear. We are going to send her back for second grade in the fall, but she is very excited about the different teacher, so I am hopeful that this next year will go much better.

As a person who was also intense, sensitive & probably depressed as a child myself, I can say that having had a parent who believes you, doesn't make light of your emotions and validates how you feel would have made a huge difference for me. I don't fault my parents b/c I don't think that they believed that a child could feel things that deeply or truly be unhappy, but I am trying to be very diligent about monitoring my older dd's moods and feelings and providing her whatever emotional support she needs.
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#5 of 6 Old 07-11-2005, 07:36 PM
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Your dd sounds very much like my oldest -- she is extremely sensitive and reacts strongly to things. She also exhibited very similar symptoms when our family went through a crisis (our youngest daughter was born w/severe medical problems). She often complained of upset or "funny" tummy, she cried often and easily and said she couldn't stop the "bad thoughts" from being in her head. We offered lots of support and named her feelings whenever possible. In the long run, though, she got worse. This was due in large part to the ongoing nature (and critical-ness) of younger dd's issues, so may not be the same for your dd. Her symptoms worsened until she was experiencing severe panic attacks, anxiety, and signs of eating disorder. By the time she was 8, things were pretty bad and it was obvious we needed outside help. We found a wonderful child therapist who works a lot with siblings of SN kids. She did lots of art therapy, play therapy, and talked with us about techniques to use at home to help.

Dd is now 10 and doing amazingly well. She loves school, has close friends, and can handle many stressful situations. She continues to see her therapist on a very limited basis, but is generally a very happy kid. I am deeply grateful for the help we received from the therapist and would highly recommend it if you feel it's something you want to try. It sounds like you are already being incredibly supportive and caring for your dd and that she knows how much you love her.
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#6 of 6 Old 07-12-2005, 12:33 AM
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you might be interested in reading this thread -- http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=196898 about highly sensitive children. my sensitive one is only 4 and we try to shield her from news and scary stories, etc. i don't have much advice having not gotten to the stage your in yet, but sounds like you've gotten some good advice here and you might find some kindred spirits on that other thread.

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